U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Littler Clients

Littler Mendelson is pleased to announce that the United States Supreme Court has recently issued two decisions in favor of the Firm's clients, Granite Rock and Rent-A-Center.

On June 24, 2010, in a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the dispute over a collective bargaining agreement's formation date was a matter for the District Court, not an arbitrator, to resolve. In deciding Granite Rock Co. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, et al., the Court overturned a contrary ruling of the Ninth Circuit and emphasized that whether parties have agreed to arbitrate a particular dispute is typically an issue for judicial determination. On a second issue, the Court unanimously ruled that recognizing a new federal cause of action for tortious interference was premature, as other claims could be argued on remand against the International Union for allegedly causing the Local Union to violate its collective bargaining agreement. This includes the potential agency and alter-ego relationship between the International and the Local, an alternative theory argued in Granite Rock's brief. Garry Mathiason is the lead attorney who argued the case, closely supported by Alan Levins. Both attorneys are senior shareholders in the San Francisco office.

On June 21, 2010, the Supreme Court announced a 5-4 decision reversing the Ninth Circuit panel decision in Rent-A-Center West v. Jackson. Dallas shareholder Rob Friedman was lead attorney in the case and was assisted by Walnut Creek shareholder Henry Lederman. At issue was whether questions regarding unconscionability of the arbitration agreement are to be decided by the arbitrator or the court, when the arbitration agreement clearly delegates that authority to the arbitrator.